The Taft Factor
The other main event today is in the gubernatorial race, where Secretary of State Ken Blackwell appears to be pulling away from state Attorney General (and former Auditor) Jim Petro in the Republican primary. Several polls released in the final days of the race pegged Blackwell as the frontrunner, with leads ranging from 12 to 21 points. Blackwell, who is African American, would be the second black Republican to win a gubernatorial nomination this year(former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann won the GOP nod in Pennsylvania).
While a Blackwell victory would make national news, he would still start the general election behind Ted Strickland, a deficit due in no small part to the ethical problems surrounding outgoing Gov. Bob Taft (R). Blackwell used television ads to link Petro and Taft in the primary and is likely to stay as far from the incumbent as possible in the fall. Nonetheless, Blackwell will not be able to erase the "R" after his name, which could seal his fate among the state's disgruntled voters. The Fix ranked the Ohio governor's race as the second most likely gubernatorial seat to change parties this year in out most recent Friday Line on governors races.